Sunday, August 27, 2006

Discovery, not attainment

Jesus told His disciples: "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
Fallen human nature cannot help but strive. And Christians, who should know so much more and so much better because our Lord told us not to strive in this way, seem always to be striving.
We are to "die daily." 1 Cor 15:31
We are to "stand still and see the glory of the Lord."

In our weakness, God’s strength and power is made perfect because His grace is sufficient to do wonders and is made perfect in our weakness.

Jeremiah tells us in 10:23 "O Lord, it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."
Paul tells us, "When we are strong, then we are weak."
When we strive, and attempt to do things in our own will and strength, the power of God cannot flow.

Psalm 127 states, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain."

Jesus tells us often in the Scriptures to "repent and believe." He wants us to repent from the lesser sins, yes, but the GREAT sin he wants us to repent of – the Sin the Holy Spirit will convict the world of– is the Sin of unbelief. This is the father of all sins: we do not believe a word God says to us. It is the same sin Adam and Eve encountered when Satan said to them, "Has God said?" Deep in our hearts we are at enmity with God and we don’t trust Him or believe His promises and His good will toward us.
The gospel is God’s good news to humanity, and the gospel is primarily about what God has done for us. The Bible is full of God’s precious promises, and these promises are about God’s perfect will for us. We are to strive in faith, not by doing our own strength, and not in our will. We are to strive to rest and stand in the truth we have discovered in His words.
The Bible is full of God’s promises waiting to be discovered. The theme of discovering the truth is everywhere in the Bible:

Thy words were found and I ate them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good
"Precious Promises."
"A treasure found in a field."
But because fallen human nature cannot help but strive, we forget that it is the discovery of truth that sets us free. We can work and work to our heart’s content, but if we do not discover a truth, and rest in that truth, the truth cannot work in us.

St Paul tells us, "Not I, but Christ."
God tells us that "without me, you can do nothing."
He tells us to "take no thought for our life."
He tell us to "trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to lean not unto our own understanding.
God tells us "Come unto me all who are heavy-laden and I will give you shall find rest for your souls."
He tells us to "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him."
He tells us that "God watches over His word to perform it."
The promises of God, therefore are discovered and believed in. All the blessings of God – health, prosperity, spiritual growth– are to be discovered and accepted. They are not to be accepted by faith, and attained through reliance on God’s spirit working within us.

God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness.
God has blessed us
God has given us favor
God has set us free.
We shall not want.
God supplies all our needs.
God gives seed to the sower.
If we "know the truth" the truth sets us free. Consider electricity and gravity. These truths existed since the beginning of time but could not be applied to our lives until they were discovered. One of the great truths of the Bible is that "All things are yours." These things – healing, prosperity, blessings– are ours already. Just as Jesus has already saved all men, but in order for people to accept that salvation, they must hear about it and accept it.
We are told to
"bring every thought captive to the knowledge of Christ." 2 Corinthians
"not be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds."
"fight the good fight of faith."
that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but are spiritual and pull down mental strongholds."

We know that we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. But, at the same time, we don’t understand that this work consists in "only believing." We work by reading the Bible and discovering a promise or truth and setting our hearts to believe in it and to storm heaven with our trust. The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. The violent are those who with a trusting heart decide they will rest in the promise and in no other truth. The striving work we must do is to be careful what we hear. We must trust God’s spirit within us and within His work to make us holy. And we must meditate on and live in God’s word in order that we will not be pulled into the worldly way of thinking. God’s ways are not our ways. And the more we listen to the world, the more unconvinced we become about God’s ways. When this happens, we allow ourselves to become enslaved to sin, sickness and death. We stop believing that the blood of Jesus, the word of God, and the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed us from sin, sickness, poverty, and death.
So then, let us strive to enter into God’s rest. In the day when we hear God’s voice, we are not to harden our hearts as the Israelites did when they saw God’s works and disbelieved. We are not to harden our hearts as Pharoah hardened his. We are not to harden our hearts as the disciples did when Jesus performed the miracles of the loaves. (Mark 6) We are to trust God, open our hearts to his power and love, and rest in His truth. We are to enter into God’s rest and to cease from our own works.

God tells us, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my strength."
The Word tells us, "The flesh profits nothing."
He tells us that all the wonders of salvation are the gift of God lest anyone should boast.
This means that just as we accept salvation of our souls by faith, so we accept the salvation of our bodies, emotions, and all aspects of our lives by the same faith. When we first accept Christ, we trust that He will sanctify us wholly. Indeed, the Bible states that Jesus was wounded for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we WERE healed. God calls those things that are not, as though they were. And even when our godparents accept salvation for us as children, they are believing by faith that we are already saved adults.

Jeremiah 9:24: Thus saith the Lord, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exerciseth lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight."
All this is summed up in these words from our Lord: "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
If you abide in me
Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord...and in God’s law he meditates day and night.
This one thing I do forgetting what’s behind I press toward the high calling of Jesus Christ.
I am the true vine...abide in me
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength
We love him because he first loved us

and my words abide in you
Take heed how you hear
For they considered not...
He who has little, the little he has shall be taken away
The Seed is the word of God...the sower comes to take the seed

then you shall know the truth
My people perish for lack of knowledge
Where there is no vision the people perish
the word did not profit them because of their unbelief
Your father knows what you need before you ask him.
My word is truth
I am truth

and the truth shall set you free.

If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.
The promises of God are yea, and Amen.
The Word of God is alive and active and sharper than a two-edged sword
The words of God are health to all your flesh
Whom the son sets free is free indeed.
That we might serve Him without fear all the days of our lives.
Jesus, who has freed us from the law of sin and death
Perfect love casts out fear
If he gave us his son freely, how will not freely give us all things?
Godliness profits in this life as well as the next

Moral: Read your Bible and be blessed by meditating on the Scriptures and the Promises of God.
Lord, let me trust in your love, care and power in my life and rest in them. Amen.

Carole McDonnell’s fiction, devotionals, poetry and essays have appeared in many publishing venues, in print and online. She lives with her husband, their two sons, and their ferocious tabby Ralphina in upstate New York. Her novel, Wind Follower, will be published in June 2007 by Juno books.

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